Leave it to a good neighbor to save the day.
That’s what happened shortly after midnight Saturday when an alert citizen helped authorities catch a couple of would-be thieves trying to get away with some frozen food and a few other items taken from his neighbor, Greg Sanders’, house.
Watching an approaching rainstorm early Saturday morning, Keith Jackson noticed a pickup parked in his neighbor’s driveway. Realizing his neighbor was out of town, Jackson alerted his father, Billy Jackson, and together the two men went to check out the scene, Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said.
As the men approached the neighbor’s house, one of the suspects fled in a pickup leaving a second suspect, Tonia Tolle, stranded. The Jacksons followed the pickup and used their cell phone to alert sheriff’s deputies, while the driver of the pickup threw some of the stolen property out of the window.
When deputies managed to stop the pickup they arrested the driver, Seth Cochrane, 17. Inside the pickup they found frozen packages of meat, boots and hats believed to have been stolen from the victim’s home.
The suspects allegedly entered the residence by breaking a window in a side door, according to the arrest report. Authorities searched the area for Tolle and eventually found her walking on the road.
“After a futile search for the female suspect and as the investigation was about to end, Ms. Tolle was observed walking in the road and readily gave herself up. She was wet and cold from the night’s ordeal in the rain,” Bryant said.
Cochrane and Tolle were both arrested and charged with burglary of a habitation, a second-degree felony. Tolle, 40, is a former police officer and a nursing student at Tarleton State University, Bryant said.
Bryant praised the efforts of the neighbors-turned-witnesses, who he said “helped foil a burglary.”
“As the sheriff I do appreciate the citizens’ efforts to help us catch these criminals,” Bryant said.
Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.